Virgil van Dijk is increasingly looking like a frontrunner to win the Ballon d’Or, after a fantastic season with Liverpool.
Coming up just short in the Premier League to Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp’s side won the Champions League and Van Dijk was a major part of their success. Under the German manager there had been repeated questions about the Reds’ defence, but signing the Dutchman from Southampton has almost completely put an end to the serious doubt.
Yet there’s a little irritation from Spanish newspaper AS today, who ask ‘Van Dijk, yes, and Sergio Ramos, no?’.
They’re talking about the Ballon d’Or and how it can often seem unfair. Joaquin Maroto believes the award ‘has historically been very unfair to the Spanish’. He points out Andres Iniesta not winning after the 2010 World Cup as ‘almost an affront’.
Following Spain’s World Cup triumph, Lionel Messi picked up the award in January 2011, with 22.65% of the vote. Iniesta came second on 17.36% and Xavi third with 16.38%.
That year there were five Spaniards in the top ten, and there’s a high possibility the votes were somewhat split, which has probably led to more concerted campaigns for individuals in following years.
Ramos wouldn’t be a candidate this year, however, the gripe is that he’s not won it previously despite his achievements numbers which Maroto says Van Dijk ‘can’t even dream of matching’.
There’s undoubtedly truth in that. Ramos has won four league titles with Real Madrid, two Copa del Reys, four Champions League trophies, and four FIFA World Club Cups.
With his country he’s won the World Cup once and the European Championship twice.
As personal honours go, he’s been in the FIFPro World XI nine times, and UEFA team of the year eight times.
Given Van Dijk is 28 years of age, the Liverpool player isn’t getting anywhere near that.
However, Maroto isn’t all rage about the situation, conceding these awards recognise a season rather than success over a sustained period. There’s clearly some irritation, though.